I've been working for Strong Towns for more than two years at this point, but one thing hasn't changed since the day I started: Each morning, I head to my office with a deep sense of excitement and passion for the work I get to do. It's not because I love my coworkers, or because I enjoy working from home, or even because I like writing and editing — although all of these things are very true. No, the main reason I'm excited to work for Strong Towns every day is because of the movement I get to be part of and the action that I get to help inspire.
Every day, I hear from Strong Towns members across the continent who are taking our ideas to heart and applying our principles in their towns.
So what does it look like when you take the Strong Towns mission seriously and start trying to make your community an economically strong and resilient place? What does it look like when you actively implement and share our message?
Here are a few examples:
Doing the Math on Development in Fate, Texas
A team of Strong Towns members who work for the local government in Fate, TX have taken Strong Towns' principles to heart and they've been working to apply these concepts in their community in a number of ways. A couple years ago, Fate City Manager, Michael Kovacs, began sharing some Strong Towns videos with his city council. (You can view the whole video series here, and we agree with Michael that it's a great way to introduce people to our mission.)
That led local leaders to begin thinking a lot more seriously about Fate's financial future and planning for development in a way that ensures a sufficient return on each investment — one that will pay for the city's needs, not bankrupt it. Michael and his colleagues developed a strategy for analyzing the ratio of private to public investment and implemented a system that takes this into account when a new development is proposed.
Not only that, but they shared their knowledge and system with a room full of Strong Towns members at our national summit this March. They also led a web broadcast about it for a virtual audience of Strong Towns members. (Check that video out here.)
The folks in Fate, Texas heard the Strong Towns message and they're using it to help their town make good financial decisions for decades to come. That's what this movement is all about.
Training a New Generation of Small Scale Developers
Corporate developers have figured out how to capitalize on federal infrastructure investments to mass produce housing. Regulations — from local zoning to national home financing standards — are designed to facilitate their business model, an approach that provides quick growth but ultimately makes cities poorer. There is an urgent need to make small investments in existing neighborhoods, but the corporate developer model can't deliver this without massive subsidies.
Strong Towns members and real estate developers R. John Anderson and Monte Anderson have made careers out of building small, incremental projects in existing neighborhoods. Now they are doggedly training the next generation of small scale developers, giving them the tricks and insights to thrive in a development world not built for them — all rooted in Strong Towns principles of incremental growth and resilient planning. You can learn more about the efforts of the organization they've formed — the Incremental Development Alliance — here.
Like our members in Fate, TX, the Incremental Development Alliance has also committed to sharing advice and expertise with the Strong Towns audience. R. John Anderson has contributed valuable and challenging resources to our website including, "How to Get Started as a Small Scale Developer" and "You're an urbanist? Excellent. Why aren't you a developer yet?"
The Incremental Development Alliance is putting the Strong Towns mission into practice, and helping others to do that too.
If you want to see this movement grow bigger, and to see more people across the country take action in response to our message, we're going to need your help. Become a member today and show the world that you take the Strong Towns mission seriously.
(Top photo source: AHOC)